Artistic merit criterion; objective evidence; private benefit considerations - Segment 3


Welcome to Artistic merit criterion, Objective Evidence, Private benefit considerations, part of the Arts Activities and Charitable Registration (Guidance CG-018) webinar.

Artistic merit criterion

Artistic merit refers to the quality of the exhibitions, presentations, or performances.

Unless the quality of the performance is obvious (for example, those with internationally or nationally recognized performers), the organization must be able to show that the quality exists. It can do that by providing:

  • a comprehensive description of the exhibition, presentation, or performance and how it will be exhibited, presented, or performed; and
  • objective evidence to show the required quality of the exhibition, presentation, or performance.

What is objective evidence?

There are two components that we are looking for:

  • first, evidence that the arts activities are properly selected; and
  • second, evidence that the arts community recognizes the merit of the presentation, exhibition, or performance, such as:
    • materials from impartial sources, such as articles in established academic journals or arts publications or professional arts reviews, about the artistic work or the artist or both,
    • reviews or critiques from mainstream media sources, as long as the qualifications of the reviewer or critic are established, or
    • evidence that the artistic work or the artist has been chosen as part of a curated exhibition, presentation, or performance.

The guidance document provides more details and other options concerning objective evidence, see Article 39.

Key points to remember

The CRA recognizes the diversity of the arts community and the variety of factors that can influence an organization's ability to meet these criteria.

For example, if the organization is just starting up and has no performances/exhibitions/presentations planned, it can meet the artistic merit criterion by showing that it has appropriate systems or standards in place. These could include guidelines for selection processes and the qualifications and experience of the decision makers.

Additionally, we recognize that the size of the organization, its location, and other factors can affect its ability to put in place sophisticated systems to ensure artistic merit. Therefore, we will consider these factors when assessing the organization.

Whether the evidence of artistic merit is sufficient will be assessed based on the facts of the case, taking into account the organization's location, size, nature, and other relevant circumstances.

Private benefit considerations

Now, we'll briefly discuss the public part of the public benefit test.

The restrictions on private benefit make up the public part of the public benefit requirement.

The benefit provided by the charity must be available to the public at large or a large enough segment of the public.

This means that a charity cannot:

  • restrict who can benefit from its activities unless it has an acceptable reason to do so; or
  • provide unacceptable private benefits.

In the first instance, for example, you can't start a charity to offer concerts only for your friends, family or business. Generally, the public at large should have access to the charity's activities when the organization is advancing the public's appreciation of the arts or promoting the commerce or industry of the arts.

In the second instance, a charity cannot give an advantage or benefit to people it doesn't serve or an advantage to the people it does serve that is greater than what is necessary to further the charitable purpose.

The next slide has a couple of examples of unacceptable private benefits. We've also outlined a number of different examples in the guidance product for further clarification.

Any private benefit to individual artists and others must be incidental. This means that it must be necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the public benefit.

Examples of unacceptable private benefits

The following are examples only and will be considered in the overall context of the charity's activities and purposes.

  • An organization established by a musical group with the main purpose of promoting its own work could not be considered charitable.
  • An organization operated to sell only the works of member artists could not be considered charitable also.
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